Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Car Infringement Charges – Proceedings Withdrawn

Car Infringement Charges – Proceedings Withdrawn

For all who might have been following the story of the car fines, and concerned to know the outcome, I am pleased to be able to say that the charges have been dismissed. I received a letter today notifying me of this.
I would like to thank the legal advisors I consulted here in Newcastle.

Ruth Skilbeck 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sydney Culture Break

On a culture-break, in Sydney, after many months of publishing work I have left the old post office in Newcastle, drawn out by two significant events. On Friday, my long-time good friend Vee Malnar received an Edna Ryan award for creative feminism, very well deserved for years of multi-talented work in creative arts- in painting, short plays, singing, comedy, film, and writing and on Saturday was the Antenna film festival Sydney sceening of THESE HEATHEN DREAMS, documentary on Christopher Barnett, emigre Australian poet, by Anne Tsoulis, which amongst many others yours truly helped support through crowdfunding, Arts Features International published conversations with both Christopher and Anne Tsoulis on making the film which documented this process.
It was good to see friends from life and facebook (which seem to have become increasingly merged)  Richard James AllenSuellen SymonsIan Milliss, and to meet Anne for the first time in person at the screening, after almost two years of facebook communications.
From the world of social media to productions and meetings in physical life, this has been an enriching and deeply thought provoking, and connective couple of days, it's good to be in Sydney again, and I haven't left yet.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Time to Celebrate a New Book, the Old Post and Telegraphy Office, and Newcastle, New South Wales.

Time to celebrate a New Book, the Old Post and Telegraphy Office, and Newcastle, New South Wales.

As the long journey to the publication of my first novel draws to a close, and my book is being prepared for printing, it is time to reflect back on the good things that being here in Newcastle has provided me with over the past years, leading to this last year as a publisher.
For a start there is my house, the old post office, after which the publishing house is named, Postmistress Press. This was by chance, we found out through seeing an article in the local history section of the Newcastle Herald, way back in the mid 1990s, when we first started living here (my ex, now grown up children and myself) that the cottage we had moved into was the first post and telegraphy office in Adamstown, an inner city area of Newcastle.
The house had not been built as a post office, it is a humble weatherboard cottage, of the style of a miner’s cottage, with a verandah on the street, a front door in the centre and two windows on either side, if you are looking at it from the street. When we arrived it was very bare and unprepossessing from the street. We planted three ‘street trees’ that the council was giving to residents then to green the city.  They are now tall trees, which provide shade and foliage on the street, three Echinaceas which have vibrant yellow blossoms. Our neighbours opposite also planted Echinacea trees, with red blossom, and next door have Echinaceas outside the house with red and yellow blossoms, so we have coordinated quite well.
The street which when we moved here was treeless is now an arbour.
I also planted a fern garden on the street level outside the house, with a few red flowering geraniums, and with the strip of grass under the trees, it gives the street more of a garden feel.

I found out by chance, or rather through the Lost Newcastle facebook site, that there was a postmistress here at the old post office for many years. I have photographs of her, and her husband and daughter, and a line up of locals on the front verandah from over one hundred years ago, which I will scan and post – or at least include in a publication soon.

That is the inspiration for the name of the publishing house, or one of them. I was attracted to the concept of ‘postmistress’ as women who worked in telecommunication, post and telegraphy offices in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were able to work on a more or less equal level with men, especially during times of crisis such as wartime. So telecommunications and telegraphy offices signify an opportunity for women to play a vital role, at least that was how it eventuated in new forms of communication. There are further resonances of female emancipation- from the mistress- and also the resonance of equality in education, a post grad is a Master, why not a Mistress. All these resonances will chime with the themes of the books I publish.

Which brings me to the new publishing house I have set up here. I am using the newest form of publishing, online publishing, to publish my books as both print books, available in shops and on global platforms such as Amazon, Kobo and more, and as eBooks.

I have now spent the last year (and prior to that another year in research) researching and working in the production of the first books.
There have been trials and tribulations that I have recorded here on this blog, and in social media, which I won’t reiterate now.
However the first year, and the worst of the trials seem to have almost been passed, and my first novel Australian Fugue: The Antipode Room, has been published and sent to supporters of my crowdfunding campaign, as a Special Collector’s Edition PDF eBook. 
Now the printed book is in the final stages of production. It will be available on Amazon in the coming two weeks, I hope.
I am also in the process of producing my PhD book, The Writers Fugue: Musicalization, Trauma and Subjectivity in the Literature of Modernity (Thesis 2006) as a printed book, to be available via Amazon and other platforms, as a print book, and as an eBook very soon.
The first Postmistress Press Anthology, with contributions from writers around the world, is in production.

So despite the trouble, trials and tribulations, no less the grinding lack of money (though we hate to mention it) in the past year, and most especially in the past six months, since April when things began to get rather tough, it will soon all be worth it.

This is certainly not for the faint-hearted I have found out. But I hope that it will all come to fruition soon, and may prove to be a sustainable business.

So, despite the difficulties I feel I owe my thanks to the Old Post and Telegraph Office, and to Newcastle, and to the New Enterprise Initiative Scheme, which is designed to help new enterprises start in Australia, for the chance to do this. Even if at times it has felt like being in a grueling and impossibly challenging reality TV show. It was always my strong wish to publish a print book, and that is about to happen, so it will all be worthwhile.

Ruth Skilbeck
Publisher and author
Postmistress Press
The Old Post and Telegraph Office

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Revisited in Newcastle, NSW, 2014.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Revisited in Newcastle, NSW, 2014.
By Ruth Skilbeck
Readers of my blog The Daily Fugue, and facebook friends will know about my trials in Newcastle, NSW, as I have been in the process of establishing, a new publishing enterprise.
When I went to Sydney to interview international artists in the Biennale Boycott (against Transfield, the Australian-based corporation that has taken over management of the Manus Island refugee detention centre, and which was interlinked with the Biennale. The same detention centre in which asylum seekers are murdered) I returned to Newcastle by train late at night. I found two fines, over $1200, on my broken down car which the Council Ranger had assured me I could leave outside my house (the kerbstones next to my house were too high to drive over).
I elected to have my case heard in court, and went to court, I was told that my case would be heard at a later date, which I heard as the 6th August. But then I was sent fines doubling the amount, dated the 5th August.
I have sought to have my court case heard, and have excellent legal advice. I went to the Court last week, and applied to have the offences annulled so my case could be heard, in the name of Justice. This was granted, but I was told that as it was the “end of the month”, it was the 29th August, I could not pay by cash. I had credit cards and was told this would be fine. I gave the details of my debit card (credit card). This was accepted, yet today I was sent in the mail, dated 1st September (one day before I had to lodge my application to annul) a letter saying that my payment had been declined. This was despite the fact that there had been more than enough to pay this on September 1, when the payment was attempted.
I have spoken for hours on the phone tonight with the bank about this.
I have been given a line about some transition in their administration, however I have used my card myself in shops and was sent confirmation about it in the mail.
This is the kind of thing that could make Solzhenitsyn worried.
For, when I initially went to Legal Aid about this matter, I was given information that I could either pay the $2000 fine or (due to “financial hardship”) I could have 2 months MEDICAL TREATMENT. Yes, medical treatment- including whatever psychiatric drugs they chose. You must be joking.
And this is supposed to be the free world.
Wake up.
Meanwhile the Newcastle Lord Mayor and two Liberal MPs have resigned due to being found guilty of corruption, to make profits from this town at the expense of the "passive" populace. Wouldn't they like that.

The same detention centre in which asylum seekers are murdered.

Sad Stories from Newcastle, NSW

Sad Stories from Newcastle, NSW

Today on the train from Newcastle to Adamstown (where I live) there was a man with a bike, and a sight-impaired man with a white stick who was helped on board by the woman I have bought tickets from in the ticket collection office at Broadmeadow Station.
We were the three passengers together. And the train sped us to our destinations. The man with a bike also disembarked at Adamstown. But soon the forces that be behind the scenes (as the Battle of Newcastle rages) will rip up this train line and replace it with a bus terminal. Another hideous terminal like that outside Central Station in Sydney, a garish construction offering nothing but a flimsy roof and a scattering of fast food takeaway shops. Horrible. And this is being projected in place of Newcastle’s historic rail line.
Why, any sane person would ask. Well, as the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) has recently revealed because there is profit to be made in ripping up the rail line, destroying several highly significant rail stations, and preferably – for “them”- installing a new Coal Terminal in a nearby location. The men behind this venture do not live in Newcastle, but stand to profit from it.
To me, as a person on a train, it seems absurd to rip up the train lines and instead install a bus line and train line that will mean changing from the train to bus to “light rail”- what a bore.
I would suggest to those billionaire non-public-transport users attempting to put this into place that they try this themselves.
We do not want “light rail”. We do not want “buses from trains”.
We want a BETTER and FASTER trail line from Sydney to Newcastle.
It is that simple.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Available Soon: Australian Fugue: The Antipode Room by Ruth Skilbeck


What is the significance of the young woman playing a violin, a vision and sound that haunt Ruby? When Ruby and Hugo fly to Australia to collect art and artists for her art gallery, she meets her forgotten lost love, and her previous identity. The consequences lead to a crime that she cannot recall as she writes in jail in Newcastle, NSW where the story begins.

Ruth Skilbeck’s first novel is a fugue mystery. A crime of mistaken and confused identities told by four very different characters whose voices interweave as their stories intersect from London highlife to Coober Pedy near Australia’s Simpson Desert. The narrative is situated in the contemporary artworld and explores themes of desire and loss of awareness of identity.

The narrative style is polyphonic, told in voices of four disconnected lovers, and critical text excerpts weaving an innovative fugal style. Ruth Skilbeck believes fiction reaches back in time to essential truth and this novel is about making art from false and true convictions.

In the end, standing for the truth –and asserting her own perspective, is rewarded and Ruby, a London art gallery director, is freed from the false accusations and conviction that imprisoned her in Newcastle, NSW and for which she will be compensated as the truth, and the travesty of her wrongful conviction becomes known and those who have branded and slandered her will be brought to justice and account.


The novel will be on sale soon*, and information will be posted here.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

In Political Context: Researching my Irish family memoir in Newcastle - the plot thickens?

By Ruth Skilbeck in Newcastle

After writing some notes on my court case progress, yesterday (my car fine which I have been writing about here, connected to my coverage of the Sydney Biennale Boycott) I now have some more time to add the very latest news about what is happening in the wider context of Newcastle local politics, and the ongoing corruption inquiry by the ICAC which in the past two weeks has seen Newcastle Liberal MPS and the Lord Mayor Liberal Jeff McCloy stand down after they have all been found to be corrupt and in collusion over illegal property development plans and deals, which has also, it has been revealed also in the last two weeks, now been revealed to have smeared former Newcastle Labour MP Jodi McKay and cost her, her seat in the NSW Parliament, as the result of a corrupt ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against her as she opposed the plans of Buildev to install a coal loader terminal on the Newcastle Harbour rather than a container terminal that she supported, a plan that has been in place for a long time and is preferred by the state government, but which was opposed by property developers who stood to make 100 million from installing a coal loader (to the great detriment of the health of the local community research has shown). This was revealed in the ICAC this week.
So now rather than taking down my post of yesterday, I will add to it, weaving in the details that I have been reading about in the Newcastle Herald, and online.

It has been a while since I wrote about my ongoing research into my family history, on my long-lost mother’s side, which is Irish.
This will form the content of my next book, and more, but for now I cannot resist sharing what I have come across today completely by chance and serendipitously as all of this research into my mother’s family has been.

For a start, last night, I had a dream… of my mother and myself in The Old Manse, the old Georgian manse my family lived in for three and a half years, in the green fields of Country Antrim in Northern Ireland, before we moved to Australia in 1975.

Then today, following up on my legal case to do with the car (which I have written of on this blog) and making my appeal to have my case heard (which was granted) I walked past a very interesting building on the other side of the street to the Court House where I made my appeal. A tall blue painted stone building, in a state of faded elegance. My eye was caught by a heritage plaque almost on the level of the footpath, which I bent down to read.
It was very blustery weather, with a high wind blowing salt spray from the ocean at the far end of the street and I was almost blown over as I read the history of the building, which is on the site of the old “Sessions House”.
Clutching onto my scarf, I read that the Sessions House was a two-storey building that from 1822-1890 had served as Newcastle’s first Court House. I was fascinated to read this, as I thought my ancestor Cyrus Matthew Doyle had been amongst other things a local Magistrate who would have served in this very place, where I was standing now. Then I read that the same building was the first Post Office in Newcastle, from 1828, it served as a temporary Customs House from 1839. In 1859 it became a Presbyterian manse.  I was staggered to read this, as I live now in an old post office, the first post office in Adamstown, in Newcastle. I lived in an Old Manse in (Northern) Ireland, which was haunted.
My ancestors on my mother’s side came from Ireland, and as I have said here on this blog I have found out that the original ancestors who came from Ireland were political exiles, Rebels, from the 1798 rebellions.

I was quite shocked to read of this building’s history, and the odd resonances with my own places of abode, as I walked around the corner to the seafront and had a coffee at the Estabar overlooking the stormy seas as I mulled it over. I read the Newcastle Herald, more stories on the ongoing Independent Commission against Corruption Inquiry into corruption in Newcastle, and collusions between property developers, and politicians.  This has seen in the past two weeks, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, a property developer, Liberal Jeff McCloy, and Liberal MPs in Newcastle – Mr Tim Owen disgraced Liberal MP for Newcastle, and  Mr Andrew Cornwell disgraced Charlestown MP- found guilty and of one (Owen) accepting illegal money including from then Mayor, Mr Jeff McCloy, a millionaire property developer described as a “walking ATM” who gave people (Tim Owen) tens of thousands of dollars in brown paper bags, and two (Cornwell) lying to the ICAC under oath (giving false evidence). I read. I read about the current corruption inquiry into a scheme that would have made $100 million for development group Buildev (largest shareholder Nathan Tinkler- also before the inquiry) installing a coal terminal on a harbourside site that the government has long said is preferred as a container terminal, and which is cited in a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign to smear sitting former Newcastle Labour MP Jodi McKay in the run up to the election in 2011 for her opposition to the coal terminal, which has great opposition in the Newcastle community (It would be a major polluter and very injurious for health of the local community). This was run through the Newcastle Alliance bank, ‘dirty tricks’ that drove MP Jodi McKay out of her seat in the NSW Parliament. (I remember the pamphlet that was delivered to my house in Newcastle before the 2011 elections “Stop Jodi’s Trucks”). This was all with the support of MP Darren Williamson who spent all day in the ICAC witness box on Wednesday.
Then I returned to Adamstown on the train, a wonderful evocative train journey from the historic Newcastle Train Station, which was built in the nineteenth century and is one of the things I like most about the city. And which extraordinarily is now under threat from property developers, including those who are being investigated in the ICAC inquiry.

Buildev is alleged to have illegally funded the FedUp! election advertising campaign run through the Newcastle Alliance. [That was against then Newcastle Labour MP Jodi McKay]
Buildev also made a series of illegal donations to the campaign of Ms McKay’s Liberal rival, Tim Owen, allegedly including $35,000 via the Free Enterprise Foundation that was channelled through the NSW Liberal Party, and payment of the wages of Owen campaign team member.”

When I sat down this evening to start my work on my book publication, I was for some reason suddenly inspired to look up post offices, in Newcastle, and found a link to a post office in Adamstown in Ireland. I thought it could possibly in time, or in imagination, be a sister post office to the old post office where I am living and running Postmistress Press.
I clicked on the links, and found a webpage to Enniscorthy in Wexford home of Adamstown in Ireland, and Enniscorthy Castle. I clicked on the link to Enniscorthy and went straight to the home page of the castle where the first thing I read was that it is a tourist site which celebrates and commemorates the 1798 Rebellion, hosting the “National 1798 Rebellion Centre”.
To my further surprise I read that this week from 23rd-31st August is Heritage Week 2014 at the National 1798 Rebellion Centre and Enniscorthy Castle.
A week in which there are public lectures about the Rebellion and its cultural and historical aspects.
On this very day, Friday the 29th August, there is a lecture on “Weapons of the 1798 Rebellion” by Rory O’Connor in the 1798 Rebellion Centre.
Well, my ancestors did not use weapons apparently as they were exiled for life on the grounds that they were non-violent, a plea made by my ancestor Sophia Isabella Doyle and granted by Lord Castlereagh who she was related to.
He granted that Rebels who were non-violent could be exiled for life, instead of executed, and so my family came to Australia. And they were from Dublin and the countryside near the Wicklow Mountains, rather than Wexford.
I will not go into any further details here, I have relayed some of my research so far in previous entries over the last three years, and will be writing it up into my next book or two.

But this has certainly made me feel once again that I am on the right track and have somehow, in some strange and mysterious way been brought to Newcastle to retrace, and find my long lost family, and write them back into life.

What’s more I am impressed by how in Enniscorthy the historic site of the castle and the cultural history is commemorated and celebrated, in a city like Newcastle this includes respecting the historical aspects of the railway, and buildings and not allowing corrupt property development, such as revealed in the ICAC inquiry, to exploit and destroy the cultural heritage of a unique city for the profit of a few.

Ruth Skilbeck   August 29, 2014
The Old Post Office, Adamstown, Newcastle

The National 1798 Rebellion Centre and Ennicorthy Castle in Enniscorthy, Wexford:


“THE Buildev co-founders at the centre of a corruption inquiry stood to make $100 million if they had secured government approval for the Mayfield coal-loader proposal they relentlessly promoted, under an agreement to then sell the site to Nathan Tinkler’s Hunter Ports.”

When former Labor Newcastle MP Jodi McKay was interviewed for this story it was before the ICAC inquiry into the Liberal MP who replaced her, Tim Owen, after the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign to smear her, bank-rolled by Nathan Tinkler –property developer major shareholder in Buildev- and his corruption, in the past two weeks he has been stood down for accepting illegal political donations, and corruption.

“Lord Mayor of Newcastle has just tendered his resignation in the latest fallout from the ongoing corruption enquiry into Newcastle's governance and development issues, which have seen two corrupt Newcastle Liberal MPs resign in the last three days.”  (Facebook post, August 18, 2014)

Twitter post:
         Newcastle"Corrupt" Liberal MPs quit Parliament after ICAC hearings via @ABCNews

            Former Liberal MPs quit Parliament after ICAC former Government MPs quit the NSW Parliament after admitting to wrongdoing before a corruption inquiry.

· @RuthSkilbeck on Twitter              *
After being fined almost $2000 for having my own broken down car outside my own house, which I had discussed by phone with a Newcastle council representative (council ranger) several times and he had assured me it was ok to leave my car there until I decided to either have it taken to wreckers, or have it repaired and re-registered, I then was given a fine of $1200. The day I went to Sydney to see an artists talk at SCA on the Biennale of Sydney boycott and I interviewed international artists (story on my blog) - returned to Newcastle midnight- by train- and found the fines. Went to court to contest- told I would have to go to court again, heard no more about it until this week - after I put the blog stories on the Biennale Boycott back up on my blog The Daily Fugue- and I was sent an increased level fine of almost $2000. This is in Newcastle, where two Newcastle MPs have just resigned following an investigation by ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) where they were found guilty of corruption involving the Lord Mayor a developer who gave them money for political reasons (which is illegal). Not a welcoming place I have found for a poor arts entrepreneur such as myself setting up a new publishing house. I am now seeking legal help to contest this unjust fine.
12 August at 21:20 · Edited · Like  (Facebook post August 12, 2014)